Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) has signed an executive order requiring the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a study of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, with a particular initial focus on environmental protection and taxation issues. Under terms of the June 6, 2011, executive order, the agencies must report to Martin and the state legislature by the end of the year on possible sources of revenue that could be levied on gas drilling to fund state oversight of the activity and recommend standards of liability for damages caused by gas exploration and production.

By August 1, 2012, the agencies must report on best practices for all aspects of gas exploration and production. By August 1, 2014, they must report on an array of environmental and other concerns, including water contamination risks from hydraulic fracturing fluids and gas, wastewater disposal, forest and habitat fragmentation, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic accident and road damage risks, land use impacts, type and amount of insurance and bonding, and environmental assessment requirements for permitting.